Domestic Violence and its Consequences and Suggestions on How to Help
Domestic violence in families is not uncommon and can have a detrimental effect on a survivor’s mental health. Vulnerable populations that are especially susceptible to experiencing domestic violence are children, teenagers, and the elder population. It is important to spread awareness of the abuse that others experience, so that people are not ashamed to ask for the help that they might need to emotionally process their experiences. Domestic violence can include emotional, psychological, physical and sexual abuse within a relationship. Anyone can face domestic violence no matter their gender, marital status, race, or age.
Domestic violence is often associated with women as the survivors; however, it is also important to acknowledge the stories of men who were also victims of domestic violence. Men are often overlooked in a number of mental health issues, because of society’s view that they should be the strong ones in the relationship. However, men can also be victims and they, too, should be encouraged to seek help if they are struggling to process their experiences and with other mental health issues.
Signs of Domestic Violence and How to Help
Some hallmarks of a relationship where someone might be experiencing domestic violence are: how their partner treats them publicly (possessively/jealousy, puts them down), unexplained injuries/marks, being terrified of making their partner angry, spending less time with friends/family, or being anxious/depressed or changes in their personality. When you suspect that someone might be in a harmful relationship, it is important to support them and encourage them.
Although, instinctively you might want to protect them and help them leave that relationship, that could potentially be dangerous for them. It is up to the person involved in the relationship with how they would like to move forward. You can help them by providing information to places that can provide them with help and support in managing their relationship, and my providing them with the acknowledgement and encouragement that they need to cope with their situation.
Mental Health and Domestic Violence
Many people assume that those who abuse their partners are suffering from mental illness, whether that is bipolar disorder, narcissistic personality disorder or another mental health disorder. However, these conditions do not cause abuse. Abusive behavior in a relationship is separate from mental illness and should not be allowed to excuse someone from seriously detrimental behavior, although there are cases when the two might coincide. Those who are the victims of domestic violence, however, are much more likely to experience mental health problems themselves as a result of their experiences. Living with severe mental illness also increases the chances of someone experiencing domestic abuse later in life.
If you are struggling with your mental health, or you know someone who might be struggling, please feel free to contact the professional team at Lifeline Connections for help! Getting yourself help, whether it is through self-help or by reaching out to professionals is an important part of recognizing that you are struggling; it is also a good step forward in getting the help you need. You can visit Lifelineconnections.org or call 360.397.8246 for more information.